Gourd-on Bennett!

Excuse the terrible pun in the title there. I’ve found something that Lucy and I will definitely be trying in some form, at some point…It involves creating a flexible mould and then growing a gourd inside it so that it grows into the shape of whatever you’ve modelled.

Portrait Gourds Grown in Molds

I’ve been doing some work on the data-link front. This was my plan to transfer data from sensors on the allotment to our house using radio transmitters and receivers. First off I contacted a company called Radiometrix. They had a nice looking transceiver module with a 10km range (perfect as we’re only 1km from the allotment) which I emailed them about to ask the price. I got a reply saying that the module I’d enquired about wasn’t legal for use in the UK yet due to the frequency it operates on. They then said if I supplied my business’ contact details that they would send me a quote and tell me what other modules might suit my application. I replied with my contact details but saying that I wasn’t a business…I’ve still not heard back from them, oh well.

After being dismissed by Radiometrix because I’m a lowly member of the public and not a Limited Company, I managed to track down alternative radio gear on good old eBay. The seller has a large range of very cheap kit. The ones that really caught my eye were this transmitter and the matching receiver. The transmitter supposedly has a range of 4000m, more than enough to bridge the gap between the allotment and our house. With a bit of luck and a decent antenna setup the receiver should be able to pick up the signal.

To start off with I’ve ordered one transmitter and one receiver to test the modules out. The seller on eBay offers flat rate postage of $4 no matter how many items are ordered, making it pretty cheap to do multiple orders should I need to get more bits. The total for my order including postage and the Paypal currency converting fee came to £11.40, much cheaper than one of the Radiometrix transceivers I imagine.

The modules don’t feature any kind of encoder chips so I was planning to implement software based Manchester Encoding on a PIC 16F88 chip to make the data transfer reliable. When the modules arrive I’ll post the results of any testing.

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